I’ve Never… been all that bright.

“If you never have you should,
These things are fun and fun is good.”
— Dr. Seuss

What happens when you combine roman candles, a box of wine, and a group of idiots? A very Merry Christmas.

This past Sunday I was home for my family’s annual Boxing Day celebration at my Aunt and Uncle’s place in Port Albert, Ontario. The evening began innocently enough but as time and boxed wine drained away, things escalated into the absurd, as is too often the case when my cousins get together.

Before long I was standing in the snowy backyard in my gotchies with six or seven of my kin. In our hands were roman candles – those long, tubular fireworks that launch a series of exploding shells. According to Wikipedia, roman candles are banned in some countries due to their tendency to cause accidents. I can see that.

My brother, Nick, chasing someone with his roman candle.

Giggling like school children, we huddled around a lighter and ignited our weapons. Suddenly the Chilton’s backyard was a war zone. The entire battle couldn’t have lasted more than a minute or so but that can seem like a long time when fireworks are whistling past your ear and hitting you in the back of the head (which hurts more than you might think).

I was lucky enough to be wearing a toque (I won’t say “smart” since there was nothing smart about this entire activity). My cousin Jonathan was not as lucky and suffered a particularly nasty blast to the back of his head by one of my roman candles. In my defense my other cousin, Shawn, was holding Jonathan in front of him as a human shield at the time he was hit.

Jon - I'm very sorry. I'm sure the hair will grow back.

When the supply of fireworks had been exhausted we ran inside to show off a cornucopia of wicked burns in our flesh and holes in our underwear. I managed to escape with only a few holes in my clothes but our cousin Mike got it a whole lot worse. On either side of his stomach were grotesque wounds that looked like he had been blasted with buckshot. We were all confused as to how he managed to suffer those distinct types of burns, considering everyone else had much smaller, individual marks.

Later that night, Mike finally revealed what had really happened. Apparently after he lit his roman candles he ran into the night holding them backwards and blasted himself at point blank range in the stomach. Amazing.

Now let me be clear. In no way, shape or form do I endorse shooting loved ones with fireworks. It’s idiotic, dangerous and I’m surprised someone didn’t lose an eyeball or two.

However, what I will say is that our roman candle battle is an example of how experiential riches are of more value than material wealth. When I look back at Christmas 2010, I’m not going to remember the stuff I got as gifts or what gifts I got for other people. I’m going to remember the great time I had running around my Aunt and Uncle’s backyard shooting my cousins with fireworks. Perhaps a bit too extreme an example of cherishing memories over materialism, but an important lesson nonetheless.

Been in a roman candle fight? Check.

Duane Elgin, author of “Voluntary Simplicity”, talked about the “invisible wealth of experiential riches.” My “I’ve Never Club” is inspired by this idea and chronicles my reflections on the novel things I’ve done recently.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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6 Responses to I’ve Never… been all that bright.

  1. Mandy says:

    This one made me LAUGH Josh! You brought home the holidays for me and many of your readers with this (unique) example. Great post! 🙂

  2. Pingback: I’ve Never… been all that bright: Part 2 | Josh Martin Ink

  3. Pingback: I’ve Never… played Red Rover as an adult. | Josh Martin Ink

  4. Pingback: Bed in a Barn: Keep your fires stoked | Josh Martin Ink

  5. Pingback: Blind, deaf… and pretty dumb: Failing (and feeling) your way to success | Josh Martin Ink

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